Home / News / World /  Russia says Ukraine bombed their POWs. Recce presents contradictory evidence
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In the warfront between Russia and Ukraine, local media reports suggest that Ukrainian special forces had carried out an attack on Tuesday on the base on the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula. Moscow had said the explosions were detonations of stored ammunition. Further Heavy fighting raged around the eastern Ukrainian town of Pisky near Donetsk. 

The Ukrainians also blamed the Russian forces of using the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant to shield artillery.

While, the battlefield looks at war that doesn't seem to come to an end, a crisis have emerged in the killings of a total of 50 Prisoners of War, wherein the Russian authorities have claimed that Kyiv has killed the jailed POWs using US-made HIMARS rocket.

Who are prisoners of war

A prisoner of war is a person who is held captive by a belligerent power during or immediately after an armed conflict. The earliest recorded usage of the phrase "prisoner of war" dates back to 1610.

What is the US-made HIMARS rocket

The M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) is a light multiple rocket launcher developed in the late 1990s for the United States Army and mounted on a standard United States Army M1140 truck frame.

What Russia claims

Ukraine, according to Moscow, killed its own soldiers because it didn’t want them confessing to war crimes, and to discourage other soldiers from surrendering. A senior official of the self-declared Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Eduard Basurin, claimed that “after the Ukrainian prisoners of war began to talk about the crimes they committed on the orders of the political authorities of Ukraine, a blow was struck here."

Russian claims emerged after an official of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Zvezda channel, Andrey Lazarev, pointed at fragments found in the accident site, which looked like serial number of a HIMARS rocket. 

Even Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov joined the chorus stating that the detention center was “hit by a missile attack from the American HIMARS."

What Ukraine says

Ukraine vehemently denied the claims, with President Volodymyr Zelensky calling the attack "a deliberate war crime by the Russians." Ukrainian officials believe the fierce fire inside the warehouse was caused by a thermobaric weapon. A thermobaric weapon is essentially a vacuum bomb, sucking all the oxygen out of the air and generating very high heat very quickly.

What evidence suggests

Reports have suggested that many of the prisoners in the Olenivka detention center belonged to the nationalist Azov Regiment. They had been transferred there after surrendering at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol in May 2022. Notably, Azov is viscerally loathed by the Russians, and the feeling is mutual.

An investigation conducted by CNN shows that Russian version of events is very likely a fabrication. There is almost no chance that a HIMARS rocket caused the damage to the warehouse where the prisoners were being held.

Experts consulted by CNN discount a HIMARS strike on Olenivka -- but can’t say definitively what killed and wounded so many prisoners. A lack of access makes definitive conclusions impossible. However, experts say most signs point to an intense fire, and according to several witnesses there was no sound of an incoming rocket.

Olenivka, where the detention center is located, is in the part of the Donetsk region which has been held by pro-Russian forces for eight years.

The investigative report goes on to say that the Olenivka compound, once a correctional facility, includes several buildings surrounded by walls. Most are decrepit. Coupled with pictorial evidence, the CNN investigation says that around 11 p.m. on July 28, evidence shows an intense fire broke out in the warehouse. The building has thin cinder-block walls and a corrugated metal roof. The picture shows that the walls of the building where apparently the HIMARS rocket struck are all standing tall, only parts of the roof seems damaged. Experts said a HIMARS strike would have caused much greater damage.

Further the investigation found that inside the warehouse where the ‘strike’ as claimed by Russia happened, there is evidence of intense and widespread fire damage.

Previous incidents of HIMARS rocket strike have shown far worse damage including the damage scene looking like a crater that can be captured for a satellite imagery. 

“The Russians appear to have laid groundwork to support their version of events. Russian war reporters were allowed access to Olenivka in the days before the attack.", says the CNN report.

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